By Shrida Pandey, Lyanne Wang, and Marisa Guerra Echeverria, Online News Editor and Staff Writers
// In a time of multiple American crises, including a deadly pandemic and a national political divide, it is crucial now more than ever for Americans to act on their right to vote. In order to do so, they must weigh the pros and cons of every proposition and every candidate on the ballot to support the causes and leaders they believe will benefit America as a whole.
This year, there are 12 propositions facing Californias on the 2020 ballot. Propositions have a strong impact on the state government, ranging from raising government taxes to expanding voting rights within California. The passing of some of these propositions would also alter the California Constitution. Needless to say, it is important for voters to research and decide upon the propositions on the ballot carefully to steer the state’s future.
Proposition 14: Stem Cell Research Institute Bond Initiative
If passed, Proposition 14 would create $5.5 billion in general obligation bonds to help the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) fund stem cell research. Although voters already approved another proposition in 2004, which issued $3 billion in bonds to help finance the CIRM, only about $132 million of those original bonds remain. The CIRM would use the new bonds to continue researching diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia, alongside expanding programs that promote stem cell research.
Proponents for the bill argue that most California families would benefit from stem cell research and that the increased funding for CIRM would help develop treatments and clinical trials for diseases. However, the opposition argues that due to California’s budget deficit, the money from the bonds would be better used for more pressing matters like education or the healthcare system.
Proposition 15: Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative
Proposition 15 would repel the 1978 Proposition 13 and require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on their market value rather than their purchase price. Although property owned by small businesses would be exempt from the new tax hike, the ballot will increase state revenue by around $8 billion per year. Most of the money will go into the education system or be reinvested back into local governments.
Supporters believe that the proposition will help close property tax loopholes, support small businesses, and protect homeowners while also supporting the education system and local communities. Critics assert that this increase in property taxes would raise the cost of living and make the economic crisis worse for businesses.
Proposition 16: Repeal Proposition 209 Affirmative Action Amendment
Proposition 16 would repeal the 1996 Proposition 209, which banned discrimination or preferential treatment based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in areas of public education and public employment. If the proposition passes, the use of affirmative action programs would be allowed in California.
Advocates of Proposition 16 attest that affirmative action would allow for equal opportunities to all California residents in terms of public education and employment. Opponents of Proposition 16 argue that it will discriminate against Asian and white Americans and further racial tensions among different groups.
Proposition 17: Voting Rights Restoration for Persons on Parole Amendment
Proposition 17 would change the state Constitution and allow people on parole for felony convictions to vote in California elections. Under the current system, convicted felons need to complete their prison sentence and parole before being allowed to vote.
Proposition 17 supporters argue that once a felon convict completes their sentence, they should be allowed to re-enter society with all of their voting rights. The opposition disagrees with this, stating that parole is primarily for rehabilitation after a person commits serious crimes, and voting rights should only be restored after it is completed.
Proposition 18: Primary Voting for 17-Year-Olds Amendment
Proposition 18 aims to amend the California Constitution to permit 17-year-olds who will be 18 at the time of the next general election to vote in primaries and special elections. As of now, individuals must be 18 years of age to partake in voting in local and federal elections; This constitutional amendment would change not only the aspect of voting but also allow eligible 17-year-olds to seek office as they are registered voters. The proposition was approved during the 2019-2020 legislative session as Assembly Concurrent Resolution 4 (ACA 4) and the California State Assembly voted 56 to 13 to pass ACA 4 on June 26, 2020. Currently, 19 states and Washington D.C. allow 17-year-olds who would be eligible for the next general election to vote early.
Those in favor of Proposition 18 argue that it makes sense for eligible 17-year-olds to vote due to the fact that many of them already work, pay taxes, and are able to join the military. Having young, first-time voters in an election cycle could boost youth interest and voting. Opponents say that 17-year-olds are not worldly enough and are too influenced by parents or teachers. As kids, they cannot enter legal contracts nor are their brains fully biologically developed so they should not be objective voters.
Proposition 19: Property Tax Transfers, Exemptions, and Revenue for Wildfire Agencies and Counties Amendment
Another constitutional amendment, Proposition 19, works to give Californians at least 55 years old or with severe disabilities the chance to buy a new house and keep the same low property tax rate they owed on the old house they originally paid for. This would allow eligible homeowners to transfer their tax assessments to a more expensive home with an upward adjustment anywhere in California. Proposition 19 is similar to the baby boomer tax break placed on the ballot in 2018, except it now has a way to combat the billions of dollars that would be lost in revenue for schools and cities. Realtors plan to pay for the tax rate transfers by requiring inherited homes from parent-to-child or grandparent-to-grandchild be reassessed at market value when transferred, generating hundreds of millions in tax revenue, much of which would be allocated towards firefighters.
Supporters, including the California Association of Realtors and California Professional Firefighters, say Proposition 19 actuates senior citizens to downsize their homes, freeing up the state’s expensive housing market. The Proposition’s closing of the inheritance tax would also benefit government groups, such as the fire protection services, monetarily. Opponents argue the proposition is an attempt by politicians and realtors to raise property taxes and boost personal commissions; adults have the right to own inherited property without having to face a great tax burden.
Proposition 20: Criminal Sentencing, Parole, and DNA Collection Initiative
The approval of Proposition 20 would reclassify many property crimes as felonies, boost penalties for those who regularly violate terms of parole, require law enforcement to collect DNA samples for some convicted peoples, and add to the list of “violent felonies” that prevent offenders from applying for early release. Specific crimes such as firearm theft, vehicle theft, and unlawful use of a credit card will be chargeable as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. The proposition increases penalties for former inmates while decreasing the chance for inmates to apply for early parole consideration. Within the past six years, California has passed Propositions 47 and 57, lowering the offense of several felonies and making it easier for inmates to get out on parole. Law enforcement unions fear California has swung too far and placed Proposition 20 on the ballot.
Advocates of this proposition argue that California made a mistake by downplaying the offense of several petty crimes which led to an increase in car thefts and shoplifting. They feel California became too lenient in allowing “non-violent felons” to apply for early release from prison while also not specifying several crimes such as child abuse and hate crimes as “violent felonies”, so Proposition 20 would fix these mistakes. Those against this proposition, such as Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Democratic Party, argue that the aforementioned subsists a feeble approach to deal with crime which will simply explode the state’s prison budget while encouraging the mass incarceration problem.
Proposition 21: Local Rent Control Initiative
Proposition 21 would allow rent control on housing that was first occupied over 15 years ago, excluding landlords who own no more than two properties with subdivided interests. The ballot measure would replace the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act passed in 1995 which allowed local governments to use rent control except on housing occupied after February 1, 1995 and housing units with distinct titles. This proposition is similar to Proposition 10 of 2018 which would have allowed local governments to adopt rent control on any type of rental housing, but the context of the measure is now very different. Proposition 21 will protect many struggling renters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supporters say Proposition 21 will prevent more homelessness and gentrification and protect several Californian families from being evicted. Opponents say strict local rent control will make it unprofitable for landlords to build more housing at a time when California has a large housing shortage.
Proposition 22: App-Based Drivers as Contractors and Labor Policies Initiative
The passing of Proposition 22 would consider app-based drivers for delivery and rideshare services as independent contractors, challenging the California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) that classifies them as employees. The new classification would require companies, such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash, to set new wage policies, including healthcare, minimum earnings, and vehicle insurance, and new labor policies, including criminal background checks and safety training for drivers.
Supporters argue that employee status means less access to services, higher prices, and longer wait times. In passing the proposition, these services would improve and provide work benefits and public safety. Opponents of the proposition argue for app-based drivers to remain employees. Their reasoning is that Prop 22 eliminates workplace protections in exchange for less money and healthcare. Opponents also argue that Prop 22 does not limit driver flexibility.
Proposition 23: Dialysis Clinic Requirements Initiative (2020)
Proposition 23 calls for all chronic dialysis clinics to put in place more regulations, including always having an on-site physician during treatment, more data reports on dialysis infections, stricter closing guidelines, and no payment discrimination.
Supporters believe that the passing of Prop 23 would mean more accessibility to treatment with on-site physicians, more data on dialysis infections, and increased patient protection when clinics close. The opposition to this proposition argues that dialysis clinics already provide high-quality care and imposing more regulations would worsen physician shortages and force clinics to close or cut services, putting lives at risk. Prop 23 would also increase government costs.
Proposition 24: Consumer Personal Information Law and Agency Initiative
Approving Proposition 24 allows consumers to restrict and regulate businesses on the use and handling of sensitive information, including race, geolocation, and health among others. To enforce these rules, the state would establish a new state agency to impose larger fines and penalties for business violations, increasing state costs.
Proponents of Prop 24 argue that the proposition’s place on the ballot would ensure its passing, strengthening data protection and preventing companies from using sensitive information. Opponents counter that Prop 24 burdens consumers with too many forms to opt out of data sharing and that previous privacy laws already restrict data sharing.
Proposition 25: Replace Cash Bail with Risk Assessments Referendum
Yes on Proposition 25 upholds the State Bill 10 (SB10), which replaces the cash-bail system in favor of a computer risk-assessment algorithm that determines whether a defendant is at low or high risk of not showing up to trial after bail.
Supporters of Prop 25 argue that the cash-bail system favors rich defendants, detains poorer defendants and people of color, and generates a lot of debt towards non-guilty and uncharged people. Opponents of Prop 25 advocate to repeal SB10 and institute a cash-bail system for the fact that jails would incarcerate too many people, would cost millions of dollars a year and overburden courts, and that the algorithm would discriminate against poor and minority defendants even more.
Alongside the propositions, voters will decide on their representatives for the upcoming years. During this election cycle, seats in the House of Representatives, California State Senate, and California State Assembly will all be contested. Alongside this, voters will decide on the next President of the United States.
House of Representatives, 11th Congressional District
Mark DeSaulnier (Democrat) – Running for Reelection
Incumbent Mark De Saulnier is the Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives, representing California’s 11th congressional district. Desaulnier is a career lawmaker and California resident for 30 years, residing in Concord and owning successful local restaurants in the Bay Area.
He currently holds the office as of 2015, serves in four committees, and is running for re-election. DeSaulnier’s main priorities are civil rights, veteran support, public education, gun violence protection, among others. He has a history of voting in favor of progressive causes, including educational funding, environmental-friendly transportation, and labor protections.
Nisha Sharma (Republican)
Nisha Sharma is the Republican candidate contesting the 11th Congressional district. Sharma is a realtor in Los Altos, CA, a mother, and an Indian immigrant who is active in local socio-religious organizations, the Fremont Dharma Samaj, and other community-led events, including the Federation of Indo-Americans’ Festival of the Globe.
Many of her main priorities include the increasing cost of living in California, which she plans on lowering by ensuring that the economy benefits all and that no new taxes are made. Some of her other priorities include alleviating congestion in infrastructure, addressing homelessness, and regulating immigration.
California State Senate, 7th Senate District
Steve Glazer (Democrat)
Steve Glazer is the incumbent Democrat State Senator in the California State Senate, who has represented District 7 since 2015. Prior to joining the California State Senate, Glazer served three times as the Orinda mayor and was the former senior advisor to Governor Jerry Brown
During his time in the State Senate, some of Glazer’s priorities included increasing access to healthcare, providing more education opportunities for students, and improving the environment. He also served as the Chairman of the Business, Professions & Economic Development, as well as the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Student Success.
Julie Mobley (Republican)
Julia Mobley is the Republican State Senate candidate for California’s District 7. Previously an engineer, Mobley became a stay-at-home mom when her daughter was born and became a community volunteer to help support and raise money for schools and clubs. During this time, Mobley also served as the 2019-2020 Contra Costa Civil Grand Jury where she provided local government oversight.
Mobley is running on a platform that advocates for updating infrastructure, investing in new technologies to address fire risk, and providing different options on how to operate business and schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
California State Assembly, 16th District
Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (Democrat)
Incumbent Rebecca Bauer is a member of the California State Assembly representing District 16 and is running for re-election for the Democratic Party this general election. Bauer entered office in 2018, and her current term ends on Dec. 6, 2020. In the nonpartisan primary for California State Assembly District 16 which took place on March 3, 2020, Bauer received 68.3 percent of votes compared to opponent Joseph Rubay who received 31.7 percent.
Bauer is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown University Law Center, a former attorney, an environmental advocate, and a law professor. She focuses on issues that reflect community values and has passed bills to strengthen gun control, provide better access to healthcare, and improve the environment.
Joseph A. Rubay (Republican)
Joseph A. Rubay is the Republican candidate running for election to the California State Assembly to represent District 16. He advanced from the primary election on March 3, 2020 and is running to fight for issues regarding commutes and holding the government accountable.
Rubay aims to fix the transportation problems in the Bay Area to consolidate transportation funding and create safer and cleaner commutes. He promises to protect the environment by supporting practical policies.
2020 Presidential Race
Donald J. Trump (Republican)
Donald J. Trump is the Republican incumbent president of the United States of America. Prior to his 2016 win of the presidency, Trump was a businessman and television personality. Some of his work included hosting The Apprentice and being the owner of the Trump Organization.
During his time in the presidency, Trump reformed Medicare, began building a wall across the Mexican border, and lowered the income tax rate for all Americans. He continues to advocate for bringing jobs back into the United States and to prevent socialist ideas from entering the United States. His supporters include Senator Mitch McConnell, former Vice President Dick Cheney, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The opposition argues that Trump brings hateful ideology to the presidency and that his ties to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election make him unfit for the position. Furthermore, critics point to Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis as unacceptable as cases continue to increase.
Trump promises if re-elected, he will rebuild the economy, protect United States trading interests, and fix the American immigration crisis.
Joe Biden (Democrat)
The Democrat Party nominated Joe Biden to run for the president of the United States. Biden previously served as the Vice President of the United States from 2008 to 2016 and as the Senator of Delaware from 1973 to 2009 before making his run for the Oval Office. During his time in these positions, Biden received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Biden advocates for gun reform, improving the environment, and fighting for racial equity. He continues to believe in a women’s right to have an abortion and in LGBTQ+ rights. Biden also campaigned on the idea of improving the response to COVID-19 better than his predecessor.
Biden stated that if he won the election, he would re-enter the United States into the Paris Climate Agreement, change Trump’s immigration policies, and improve the current tax plan.
Biden’s opposition disapproves of his position on raising taxes and his traditional political background. Many worry about Biden’s claim of ending the oil industry, which would harm both the economy and American employment. Others question his son’s overseas business dealings due to the various conspiracy theories surrounding it.
Howie Hawkins (Green)
Howie Hawkins is the Green Party candidate for the president of the United States. Prior to his retirement, Hawkins worked for the United Parcel Service, which he cites as helping him relate to the common person. He also unsuccessfully ran as the Green Party candidate for the governor of New York in 2010, 2014, and 2018.
Hawkins’ main platform in his campaign is the Green New Deal, which would help address climate change and improve economic equality. Other policies include Medicare for all, community control of the police, and restoring net neutrality.
Hawkins’ critics point at his socialist ideas, his lack of experience, and his economic policy as unfit for the Oval Office. Alongside this, some worry that Hawkins will take away votes from the Democratic Party during a crucial election year.
If elected, Hawkins promises to implement emergency measures to help people during the pandemic. He will also improve the healthcare system to make it affordable for all Americans.
Jo Jorgensen (Libertarian)
Jo Jorgensen is the first female presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. Previously, Jorgensen was a psychology lecturer at Clemson University and a marketing director for the Libertarian Party. She also ran for the vice-presidential seat in the 1996 election on behalf of the Libertarians.
Jorgensen supports immigration, reducing the cost of healthcare, eliminating pollution with nuclear power sources, and providing free trade and economy. Jorgensen opposes the United States’ involvement in foreign wars and foreign aid. Jorgenson is also against gun control. As for her COVID-19 response, Jorgensen intends to reduce, if not eliminate, FDA mandates and regulations for more accessible testing.
Jorgensen’s opponents criticize her for being too extreme in her “no-mandate” stances across multiple issues, including the pandemic, education, the war on drugs, the economy, and reproductive rights. Critics of Jorgensen’s platform also argue that her stance on free trade and limited taxes would affect local industries.
Jorgensen states that if she won the presidential election, she would provide an alternative route to resolve bipartisan programs and mandates, resulting in a smaller American government with limited interference.
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